We have come upon the 4th year since my dad died of cancer. I usually make some post about death or grief around this time and today I want to look at some songs that have helped me grieve over the years. Music has a healing effect on us. It can speak to us in ways plain prose doesn’t. So here are the best songs or albums I know of that deal with death and grief…
1. “Learning How to Die”-Jon Foreman. You could say his whole Winter EP is about death on some level, but this song in particular is very poignant. If for no other reason, it helps us remember that we are dying and that we should take a proper perspective in light of that.
2. “Be With You”-Rich Mullins. This one also looks to death in an honest, but embracing way.
3. “Journey into Space” & “By Your Side”-House of Heroes. These two, off their The End is Not the End album, are fitting songs about death. The first is a bold rocker that almost pumps you up for it. The latter is an acoustic tear-jerker about the shared hope of heaven Christians have with one another.
4. “Graverobber”-Petra. This is, in my opinion, the best song I’ve ever heard about death. Most songs focus on the emotional impact, which is fine. But this song deals with death through Scripture. And it’s very encouraging. This has been my go-to during times of death.
5. “All My Tears” & “The Valley Song”-Jars of Clay. The first looks at death with confidence of heaven, while the second works through the actual grieving process. It’s an excellent song and is probably their best on death. (They also had one called “Fly”…but it’s not as good)
6. “Alive”-Stryper. Michael Sweet, the lead singer/guitarist of the group, lost his wife a few years back and this song came out of his grief. It acknowledges there are times when it seems like God doesn’t care anymore, but He’ll come through with hope in the end.
7. Give Us Rest/Requiem-David Crowder Band. The band’s last album appropriately dove into the subject of death, using the Catholic requiem mass as a structure. Though not all the songs are about death, the journey from the first track to the last is a healing walk in and of itself. (Their A Collision album is also a good one)
8.”You’re Beautiful”-Phil Wickham. The final verse of this song is brilliant: “when we arrive on eternity’s shore/where death is just a memory and tears are no more/We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring/Your bride will come together and we’ll sing ‘You’re beautiful.'” Very hopeful.
9. Land of the Living-Matthew Perryman Jones. Most of these songs came out of the artist’s time of grief after his dad passed away. Again, not all the songs necessarily deal with death, but the ones that do are powerful, emotional, and hopeful.
10. The Vigil-David Nevue. An instrumental offering that may not be specifically about death but nevertheless is uplifting for the long nights of grief or even the long nights leading up to death. The calming piano tunes on this one are soothing and maintain hope even in the darkest moments.
So there you go. Hopefully one or more of these songs can help you if/when you must face death and grief in its many forms. If you’re a Christian, never forget to hope. Mourning is natural. But don’t lose hope.